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China Game Licensing is Back: Don’t Miss the Boat!

As the world’s largest gaming market, China generates billions in revenue annually. Yet, the 2018 game licensing freeze left developers struggling to break in. Things are changing. As the gates begin to swing open, a sea of opportunities awaits those ready to take full advantage of this newly-accessible blue ocean. Get ready to explore the latest developments and learn how you can be the first in line to reach Chinese gamers eager to play your games.

 

The key to entering China: ISBN licenses

Entering the Chinese gaming market requires obtaining an ISBN license. In 2018, a game licensing freeze significantly affected the plans of developers and publishers alike (including some of ours). Things started changing in 2021 and 2022, with over 3,500 games receiving licenses, primarily benefiting local Chinese developers.

ISBNs Issued in China by year

Enter 2023, which saw a resurgence in foreign game licensing that included two approval batches within just three months—a stark contrast to the previous pace of one batch per year. This shift has paved the way for a more favorable environment for developers and publishers, suggesting that we are looking at a new era in access to Chinese gamers. As a publisher with over ten years of experience publishing games in China, Yodo1 has been monitoring these changes closely, and one thing has become clear: The time to act is now.

China Game Licensing is Back

Riding the wave

With over 1.5 billion players worldwide and major success publishing hit games like Rodeo Stampede and Transformers Earth Wars to the China market, we feel well-positioned to help you ride this wave and succeed in the world’s largest gaming market. Case in point: Yodo1 is helping Western game developers like Smart Project GmbH thrive in China’s ever-changing regulatory environment. We recently acquired an ISBN for their casual puzzle game5 Differences,” which earned its license among the first 27 foreign games this year. But we didn’t stop there. Given that Yodo’s expertise spans localization, marketing, and distribution within the complex Chinese app store landscape where major platforms like Google Play do not operate, we are now collaborating with the Smart Project team to help them prepare for a successful launch in the world’s biggest gaming market.

If your game has a unique selling point with over US$5 million in annual revenue globally and you are looking to unlock one of the biggest untapped mobile gaming markets in the world, partnering with Yodo1 could be your best path to next-level growth.

 

The future is bright

The unfreezing of game licensing in China has opened the growth potential floodgates. Put simply—the TAM is huge, and it’s open for business. But that doesn’t mean the waters are easy to navigate—that’s what we’re here for. With a partner like Yodo1 Games helping guide your game through the choppy waters of regulation, potential policy changes, and complex app store ecosystems, you can look forward to a bright future in the world’s largest gaming market. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s join forces and conquer the gaming world together!

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